WELFARE AND RESETTLEMENT OF EX-SERVICEMEN IN MAHARASHTRA
Indian Armed Forces have won a worldwide appreciation for their valor, dedication and devotion. The achievements of Indian Armed Forces in varying roles since independence i.e. guarding our own frontiers, rendering overseas military assistance to neighbouring countries or other nations as a part of the United Nations Forces; maintenance of internal security and aid to civil power in civil disturbances and in national calamities etc. is a matter of pride for all of us in the country. Men and women from all castes, and religions hailing from all parts of India join the Armed forces to make an integrated, secular, homogenous and dedicated force, which is unique in its nature and the tasks it performs. We owe our gratitude to the Armed Forces for their rapid assistance, rescues and rehabilitation work undertaken in the earthquake that shook Latur, Osmanabad districts in Maharashtra and Kuchh in Gujarath, causing unprecedented damage and loss of life.
Maharashtra is known for its glorious Military Traditions right from the days of the great Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Overall population of Maharashtra is around 9.69 crores. The total strength of ex-servicemen and widows in the state is 1, 69,339, and 51,715 respectively. District wise details of ex-servicemen and widows are given on page 54. The strength of dependents of ex-servicemen/widows is approximately 9 lacs. The Department of Sainik Welfare of Maharashtra State is the State level organization. At present it is located near HQ Pune Sub Area, Opp. National War Memorial Southern Command, Solapur Road, Ghorpuri, and Pune-411001. Department of Sainik Welfare acts as a link between the Kendriya Sainik Board, New Delhi, the Govt. of Maharashtra and various Zilla Sainik Welfare Offices in the State. Maharashtra is divided in six divisions consisting of 36 Districts, out of which 32 Districts have Zilla Sainik Welfare Offices.
It is the national requirement to keep the young profile of the Armed Forces. It is necessitated due to the arduous and hazardous nature of their duties in varied inhospitable terrain presenting extreme environmental and climatic variations ranging from 55 to minus 40 degree Celsius, as obtained on the vast frontiers of our country. Only the young and fit soldiers can perform at peak efficiency in such conditions. As such annually about 60,000 to 65,000 personnel from the Armed Forces retire at a relatively young age. Out of these, approximately 5000 to 6000 belong to the State of Maharashtra. These servicemen, whose retirement ages depend upon rank, vary from 35 to 45 years, require help and assistance for resettlement, rehabilitation and adjustment in the civil stream, because in the services they lead a well-regulated life away from the main stream. Having given the best years of their lives for the safety, honour and integrity of the country, it is our moral and national obligation to resettle and rehabilitate these personnel. Late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi made following observation in the ‘Lok Sabha’ on 09 Apr 81 “Finding alternative occupation for them (ex-servicemen) is our national responsibility. We do treat this question with a sense of urgency. A series of measures have been taken for the welfare and rehabilitation of ex-servicemen. The State Government and Private Sector Industries have been urged to keep this constantly in mind. Our ex-servicemen are disciplined and trained. Therefore, there is no reason as to why many of them cannot be gainfully employed in various developmental activities”. The Govt. of Maharashtra in recognition to this national obligation has constantly endeavored to resettle and rehabilitate all Armed Forces personnel who return to Maharashtra after retirement.
An 'Ex-Serviceman' means a Person
Who has served in any rank whether as a combatant or non- combatant in the Regular army, Navy and Air Force of the indian Union, and
Who either has been retired or relieved or discharged form such service whether at his own request or being relieved by the employer after earning his or her pension or
Who has been relived from such service on medical grounds attributable to militry service or circumstance beyond his control and awarded medical or other disability penstion or
Who has been released from such service as a result of reduction in establishment.
Who has been released from such service after completing the specific period of engagement, otherwise than at his own request, or by way of dismissal, or discharge on account of misconduct or inefficiency and has been given a gratuity; and includes personnel of the Territorial Army, namely, pension holders for continuous embodied service or broken spells of qualifying service.
Personal of the Army postal service who are part of regular Army and retired from the Army postal Service wihout reversion to their parent service with pension, or are released from the Army postal service on medical grounds attributable to or aggravated by military service or circumstance beyond their control and awarded medical or other disability pension.
Personnel, who were on deputation in army postal service for more than six months prior to the 14th April,1987
Gallantry award Winners of the Armed forces including personnel of territorial Army.
Ex-recruits boarded out or relived on medical ground and granted medical disability pension.
The problems faced by ex-servicemen in Maharashtra are multifaceted and vary widely depend upon the districts to which they belong. It is seen in general that the ex-servicemen residing in Western Maharashtra have better employment opportunities as compared to those residing in Vidharbha and Marathwada. Those who retire relatively young accord the highest priority to securing jobs as a second career. The widows of servicemen who died while on military duty have different expectations. For the aged ex-servicemen their primary personal needs are medical facilities, regular receipt of pensions, assistance in the enrolment of their sons or grandsons in the Armed Forces etc. The disabled ex-servicemen face a different set of problems, old widows, whose ex-servicemen husbands expired after transfer to pension establishment look for different kinds of assistance. Thus, their needs, aspirations and expectations so widely vary that meeting them with a medium of satisfaction becomes a stupendous and challenging task. Generally, an average servicemen, when he leaves the uniform, for any reasons, irrespective of rank, needs and expects the following for himself and his family:-
- Regular, correctly circulated and easily obtainable pension based on easily understandable rules, regulations and procedures. Within a few months of his retirement, he expects the settlement of all his monetary dues and credit balances.
- A second career job, while a small percentage are willing to accept job anywhere in the country, most ex-servicemen prefer jobs near their homes
- Self-employment ventures are opted by small percentage of ex-servicemen.
- Suitable accommodation of his own for himself and his family. Ex-servicemen owning residential accommodation, which while they were in service was leased on rent, expect to get it back for self-occupation on transfer to pension establishment.
- Educational facilities for children, i.e. admissions, hostel accommodation, fees concessions etc. in colleges/universities.
- Medical facilities for himself, his family and entitled dependents as laid down, also an ability to obtain prescribed medicines free of cost from appropriate military/state Govt. medical sources.
- Certain other facilities, which have already been granted to him, like canteen facilities, exemption from certain taxes in home states and so on.
- Those owning agricultural land, on retirement from service, expect to regain possession for self-cultivation speedily and with few procedural formalities.
The organizational setup, evolved over the years of past experience to resolve the problems of ex-servicemen in Maharashtra is based on the general guidelines issued by the Central Govt., Ministry of Defence. Maharashtra State has established a separate “Sainik Welfare” Department under a Cabinet Minister with a Minister of State and Secretary with the necessary staff at the Mantralaya level.
Our aim is to strengthen and revitalize the existing organizational set up of the Department of Sainik Welfare located at Pune as well as the Zilla Sainik Welfare Offices located at District level so that the welfare and resettlement task can be well planned and effectively implemented. The future plans cater for strengthening the District organization so as to undertake welfare and resettlement tasks effectively at Taluka levels.
The Govt. of Maharashtra has extended benefit of 15% horizontal reservation in Class III and Class IV posts in the Govt. Service for ex-servicemen on permanent basis. This benefit is also extended to the Zilla Parishads, Corporations, Boards, Industrial units under the administrative control of Govt. local bodies like Municipal councils, Municipal corporations.
The ex-servicemen get relaxation in qualifications and age for appointment in these posts. So far, the Government of Maharashtra has recognized a total of 123 trades out of 194 trades recognized by Central government for equivalence and the remaining are under consideration.
However, for a number of reasons the percentage of the ex-servicemen actually employed in various jobs is well below the expected percentage and till 31 Jul 2014 at about 22,524 ex-servicemen are still left on the employment register. In a survey carried out in employment, it was found that only 1.25% and 3.09% of total posts of class III and class IV respectively were filled through the ex-servicemen.
A very large potential of employment exists in the State Police/State Reserve Police as constables and Sub Inspectors, in the State Transport/Municipal Transport as Bus Drivers and Conductors and as Primary Teachers in schools particularly in remote hilly areas and as Gram Sevak in villages.
For enrolment in State Police Force, the minimum acceptable physical measures of chest and height are marginally higher than those acceptable to the Armed Forces. This anomaly has resulted in rejection of a large number of ex-servicemen who are otherwise fully combat worthy. Hence, inspire of being fully fit to perform all active combat roles in the Armed forces, a large number of ex-servicemen are denied the opportunity of employment in State Police Force.
Similar problem is for opportunities in the field of teaching. The ex-servicemen are not selected for want of the educational qualification of D.Ed. The ex-servicemen, for whom training/ teaching was an integral part of his career in Armed Forces, cannot be even considered for the Primary Teacher’s jobs. The State transport or Municipal Corporation Transport could also absorb a large number of ex-servicemen as Drivers and Bus Conductors.
Presently there is no effective and organized arrangement to offer employment to ex-servicemen in Private Sector, which has a very large employment potential, not only for security jobs but other skilled jobs as Managers/ Supervisors/ Executives.
We are trying to tackle the above-mentioned problems at various levels, however success rate is limited.
To help ex-servicemen to get a job closer to his home, Maharashtra Ex-servicemen Corporation (MESCO) has been established and become functional in Jan 2003.
It is generally noticed that a majority of ex-servicemen prefer employment and a very few option for self-employment schemes. This general apathy towards self-employment has its roots in well-regulated and guarded service, ex-servicemen renders in the protected environment of the Armed Forces, which assures him security, pay and other basic needs for himself and his family. The ex-servicemen therefore needs to be gradually prepared for his retirement during his active service by training him for various vocational skills etc. and subsequently after retirement he would not only need to be motivated for self-employment but also guided/advised till he finds a firm foothold in his self-employment venture. There are various schemes for self-employment i.e. SEMFEX –II and III sponsored by the Central Government. In addition, some schemes jointly sponsored by the Director General Resettlement and Oriental Bank of Commerce and a few other Nationalized Banks. The Department of Sainik Welfare has also floated a number of schemes to suit particularly the individual ex-servicemen entrepreneurs. The main problem faced by the service minded ex-servicemen seem to be his reluctance to embark upon independent business ventures and to risk the capital investment which he mainly draws from his post-retirement (gratuity or commutation of his pension) benefits